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Is it still possible to get permission from an airport tower, and not have to go thru LAANC?

wsalopek

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Sorry to have to ask this often-repeated question, but with law changes and such last couple years, plus zillions of old threads across the internet, it's hard, for me at least, to find a definitive answer to this question:

Can I fly a drone in my backyard within 5 miles of an airport?

From my research, the answer is NO. (And by-the-way the only advantage to a sub-250 gram drone is that it doesn't have to be registered, otherwise, it's still a "small UAS" as far as the FAA is concerned, and subject to all regulations.)

But...there seems to be an exception as long a a person is flying under "community based guidelines"...or is that old info? Section 336? I know section 336 (the "model aircraft rule") has been rescinded, but there IS still "community based guidelines"...and one of those is (paraphrasing):

"Don't fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you get permission from the tower."

Note that LAANC is not mentioned.

So...

Does that mean I can fly near the airport by personally contacting the tower instead of using LAANC? LAANC does not allow me to fly at my house, (which is 1.5 miles from airport center) because any altitude above ZERO is not authorized. Just FYI --- 2 blocks down the street I can fly to 150 feet (which, just FYI, in that case is .8 miles from the airport fence, 1.8 to airport center.)

Seems that any reasonable person in the tower would recognize that any drone flown below house-roof level, or even below tree-top level (in my case about 50-70 feet), is not a concern for aircraft at the airport...and maybe, just maybe, the tower would say OK.

Thanks...
 
an I fly a drone in my backyard within 5 miles of an airport?

From my research, the answer is NO. (And by-the-way the only advantage to a sub-250 gram drone is that it doesn't have to be registered, otherwise, it's still a "small UAS" as far as the FAA is concerned, and subject to all regulations.)

Distance no longer has any bearing on where you are allowed to fly. It is now completely based on the controlled airspace at that location. If you are in a zero grid, then you cannot fly there. Yes that covers ground to any altitude. Even an inch off the ground would be in violation of the controlled airspace.

ut...there seems to be an exception as long a a person is flying under "community based guidelines"...or is that old info? Section 336? I know section 336 (the "model aircraft rule") has been rescinded, but there IS still "community based guidelines"...and one of those is (paraphrasing):

"Don't fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you get permission from the tower."
For some "stupid government bureaucratic" reason, they included this reference to community based guidelines. In this case it doesn't help you either way because even the AMA guidelines tell you that you can't fly within 5 miles of an airport. You're grounded either way.

Does that mean I can fly near the airport by personally contacting the tower instead of using LAANC? LAANC does not allow me to fly at my house, (which is 1.5 miles from airport center) because any altitude above ZERO is not authorized.
No. You can no longer contact the local tower, whether you are flying under Part 107 or recreational rules. All controlled airspace authorizations must go through LAANC. There is an exception if you are at a location that does not yet have LAANC capability but that doesn't help you anyway because then you need to go through a long process (you still can't call the tower).

You CAN however request authorization in even a zero grid if you sufficiently plead your case. If you specify a very low maximum altitude and explain how you will mitigate all other risk then you "may" be given authorization.

Seems that any reasonable person in the tower would recognize that any drone flown below house-roof level, or even below tree-top level (in my case about 50-70 feet), is not a concern for aircraft at the airport...and maybe, just maybe, the tower would say OK.
Perhaps reasonable to some, but dangerous and risky to others. How does the FAA know that you are a safety minded pilot with the requisite skills and knowledge of the airspace so as not to create a dangerous situation.

What happens if you become disoriented and fly beyond the authorized area or above the authorized altitude? What happens if there is a hardware malfunction and you have a fly-away drone?
 
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If you can't qualify through LAANC then you have to go through DroneZone.

Your confusion stems from the mandates required by the October FAA reauthorization act and the long time it is taking forever FAA to adapt to it.
Until May, FAA stipulated hobbyists fly as before until they figured something out. From May until July 23rd, hobbyists were completely grounded from controlled airspace. After July, we now have LAANC.
FAA still hasn't come up with a mandated test for us.

As for flying a lightweight UAS, if it isn't capable of flying high or far, I can't see a practical issue of flying where you seem to be, though it is still technically not legal.
 
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You CAN however request authorization in even a zero grid if you sufficiently plead your case. If you specify a very low maximum altitude and explain how you will mitigate all other risk then you "may" be given authorization.

Actually recreational pilots are limited to the preapproved grid altitudes. Only Part 107 pilots can seek further coordination to fly higher than that.
 
Actually recreational pilots are limited to the preapproved grid altitudes. Only Part 107 pilots can seek further coordination to fly higher than that.
Thank you. The OP did not mention if he is Part 107 licensed or not. I should have asked and clarified.
 
Thank you. The OP did not mention if he is Part 107 licensed or not. I should have asked and clarified.

Part 107 pilots should never have been calling towers in the first place, so I thought it was a fair assumption he was a recreational pilot.
 
.....Seems that any reasonable person in the tower would recognize that any drone flown below house-roof level, or even below tree-top level (in my case about 50-70 feet), is not a concern for aircraft at the airport...

With Aviation we have to always think about the WHAT IFS...

What if you lose connection (transmitter battery dies... your drop transmitter and it's damaged) to the aircraft... what is your RTH height set at? What happens if you have a massive GPS/Compass error and and aircraft does a RTH in a direction towards an active runway?

While the above situations are RARE (very rare actually) they are possibilities and would potentially allow your aircraft to enter into Airspace you had ZERO intentions of being in.
 
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Distance no longer has any bearing on where you are allowed to fly. It is now completely based on the controlled airspace at that location. If you are in a zero grid, then you cannot fly there. Yes that covers ground to any altitude. Even an inch off the ground would be in violation of the controlled airspace.


For some "stupid government bureaucratic" reason, they included this reference to community based guidelines. In this case it doesn't help you either way because even the AMA guidelines tell you that you can't fly within 5 miles of an airport. You're grounded either way.


No. You can no longer contact the local tower, whether you are flying under Part 107 or recreational rules. All controlled airspace authorizations must go through LAANC. There is an exception if you are at a location that does not yet have LAANC capability but that doesn't help you anyway because then you need to go through a long process (you still can't call the tower).

You CAN however request authorization in even a zero grid if you sufficiently plead your case. If you specify a very low maximum altitude and explain how you will mitigate all other risk then you "may" be given authorization.


Perhaps reasonable to some, but dangerous and risky to others. How does the FAA know that you are a safety minded pilot with the requisite skills and knowledge of the airspace so as not to create a dangerous situation.

What happens if you become disoriented and fly beyond the authorized area or above the authorized altitude? What happens if there is a hardware malfunction and you have a fly-away drone?

Phantom....you said:

"You CAN however request authorization in even a zero grid if you sufficiently plead your case. If you specify a very low maximum altitude and explain how you will mitigate all other risk then you "may" be given authorization."

How would I request that authorization?

Thanks...
 
With Aviation we have to always think about the WHAT IFS...

What if you lose connection (transmitter battery dies... your drop transmitter and it's damaged) to the aircraft... what is your RTH height set at? What happens if you have a massive GPS/Compass error and and aircraft does a RTH in a direction towards an active runway?

While the above situations are RARE (very rare actually) they are possibilities and would potentially allow your aircraft to enter into Airspace you had ZERO intentions of being in.

That makes sense. I'm a retired Air Traffic Controller and Private Pilot...so yep...for sure...the "what ifs" and buffer zones...designed to protect neighboring aircraft from each other if a certain amount of errors, pilot mistakes, mechanical issues, etc, take place.

But that said, in those cases, we are talking about much larger aircraft that can do some real damage to each other or property on the ground should the "what if" happen.

Meaning even if a 250 gram drone went flying off in a direction to do the most harm it could...that harm would be very very minimal, at least in 99.9999% of cases (which is really all we can expect to be protected from).

Anyway, I was just wondering if as a recreational pilot I could still call the tower and avoid the LAANC zero altitude restriction in my location.

Sounds like the answer is NO...but still open for a part 107 pilot?

Thanks...
 
Phantom....you said:

"You CAN however request authorization in even a zero grid if you sufficiently plead your case. If you specify a very low maximum altitude and explain how you will mitigate all other risk then you "may" be given authorization."

How would I request that authorization?

Thanks...

As a recreational operator that option is currently NOT AVAILABLE. As a Part 107 operator you can use FAA DroneZone to request a higher altitude than the Facility Grid indicates.

On a positive note, the FAA has stated they are indeed working to make the above mentioned process available for Hobby operators in the future but for now it's a Negative.
 
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